Earth Science Week Update October 2012

American Geosciences Institute
Vol. 10, No. 10: October 2012


Act Now to Win Award
For Earth Science Teaching

Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20) wouldn’t be so successful without the efforts of amazing Earth science teachers. That’s why AGI is announcing details for its upcoming award competition, the Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. Each year, this award recognizes one full-time U.S. teacher from kindergarten to eighth grade for leadership and innovation in Earth science education.

The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in April 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, to accept the award. To be eligible for the 2013 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2013.

This award is named in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy, Jr., a past president of AGI, who was a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education. The 2013 award ceremony will be hosted by the National Earth Science Teachers Association at the NSTA Conference. To learn more, visit

Explore ‘Big Ideas’ in
Award-Winning Videos

AGI now offers award-winning videos and other electronic resources to help students, educators, and others explore the “big ideas” of Earth science during Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20) and all year long. AGI’s Big Ideas videos recently won three prestigious awards: Digital Video (DV) Winner in Education, DV Winner in Nature/Wildlife, and Videographer Award of Excellence.

Big Ideas videos are brief video clips that bring to life the big ideas of Earth science - the nine core concepts that everyone should know. The Earth Science Literacy Initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, has codified these underlying understandings of Earth science which form the basis of the Big Ideas videos.

View the Big Ideas videos on YouTube ( or TeacherTube ( The Earth Science Week web site provides related resources. Educators can find dozens of classroom activities to help students build understanding of the “big ideas” online (

Examine Fossils During
Virtual Tour of Park

To make the most of the third annual National Fossil Day (October 17) during Earth Science Week 2012, the National Park Service invites teachers to take students on a virtual visit to Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park harbors the richest known beds of mammal fossils from the late Eocene and Oligocene Epochs. Park leaders are bringing these fossils to classrooms around the country by offering distance learning video conferences every half hour next Wednesday, October 17.

Teachers and students can use Skype or IP Connect to join a park ranger for a live, interactive program introducing the Badlands rock layers and the fossil wonders contained within them. Programs will last about 20 minutes. Reservations are required by tomorrow, October 11. To learn more or to make a reservation, see

Classroom Activities
Now Searchable Online

Ever wish you could go online to search for a classroom activity tailor-made to match the Earth science topic you’re teaching? Visit the recently updated Earth Science Week Classroom Activities page for more than 120 free learning activities, most of them contributed by the leading geoscience agencies and groups that are Earth Science Week partners.

Activities now are organized and searchable by various criteria, including specific Earth science topics. To find the perfect activity for your lesson, just click on “Search Classroom Activities?” Now you can search by grade level and science education standard. Maybe most useful, you also can search among 24 categories of Earth science topics, from energy and environmental impacts to plate tectonics and weathering.

This updated, database-driven resource is ideal not only for supplementing a prepared curriculum, but also for generating activities that address in-the-news events such as fossil discoveries and volcanic eruptions. See the Classroom Activities page at

Esri Blogs for Educators
Mapping Out GIS Science

Leading the charge to incorporate GIS (geographic information system) technology and mapping software in Earth science education, Esri is blogging to provide educators with useful resources and information during Earth Science Week 2012.

The first of two new blog posts, issued last week, focuses on Earth Science Week, GIS, and careers in the geosciences (
). The second blog post, which will run during Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20), will appeal to the geospatial industry to become involved in related efforts ( Both articles deal with society’s growing need for educated geoscientists.

GIS technology - which can illuminate features such as local geology, watersheds, and roads - can require some training before it can be used effectively. To learn more about GIS and Esri, see

Contest Winners to Be
Announced Next Month

AGI thanks the many hundreds of students, educators, and others entering this year’s Earth Science Week photo, visual arts, and essay contests (

Winners will be announced in November 2012. AGI will contact winners directly and recognize their success both on the Earth Science Week web site ( and in this electronic newsletter.

NASA Video Captures
‘Seven Minutes of Terror’

In a thrilling new video, NASA scientists depict the hair-raising challenges of the Mars rover Curiosity’s final minutes before landing on the surface of the “red planet.” The five-minute video - entitled “Seven Minutes of Terror” - shows how the one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars on August 5, 2012, to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

In a victory for science, NASA scientists say, the spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

“The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph,” NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld said after the landing. “My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by the overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission’s team.” Watch the video online (

Post Your Photos Online
From Earth Science Week

Want to see yourself and your students on the Earth Science Week web site? Simply send us photos from your Earth Science Week celebrations and activities (along with any necessary signed permission forms). We’ll post selected images on the Earth Science Week Photo Gallery (

By submitting a photo, you agree to allow AGI to post the image on the Earth Science Week web site, without compensation unless prohibited. All submissions and all rights of ownership in and to the images, including all rights to use, reproduce, publish, modify, edit, and distribute the same will become the exclusive property of AGI and will not be returned. AGI reserves the right to edit, modify, adapt, copyright, publish, use, and reproduce any and all entries without further compensation.

You can snap shots with your digital camera or cell phone, or scan regular photos for electronic transmission. JPEG files are preferred. Download permission forms at
and send your photos to See you online!

Help NESTA Strengthen
Earth Science Education

The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA), an AGI member society and longtime Earth Science Week partner, is offering exciting opportunities for scientists and educators, including Share-a-Thons and Rock and Mineral Raffles.

If you have a classroom activity to share, you can present at NESTA Share-a-Thons at National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 2012 area conferences in Louisville (October 19), Atlanta (November 2), and Phoenix (December 7). Share-a-Thons allow you to quickly share information on educational activities with many teachers at once. To learn more, see

Also, if you are one of the many geoscientists and geoscience educators who have wonderful specimens of rocks, minerals, and fossils that are ready for a new home, please consider donating them. NESTA offers Rock and Mineral Raffles at NSTA conferences. Learn more at

Thanks to Earth Science
Week’s Generous Sponsors

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, Earth Science Week is able to promote awareness and appreciation of the geosciences among over 48 million people every year. AGI would like to express its appreciation to the many government agencies, nonprofit groups, and corporations that make the program possible.

Earth Science Week couldn’t do its important work without the support of organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, AAPG Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, American Geophysical Union, ExxonMobil, and Esri. In addition, year after year, Earth Science Week Toolkits are purchased in bulk for distribution to educators by organizations such as NASA, the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists’ Carolinas Section, and Loudon County Public Schools.

To learn how your organization can become an Earth Science Week Sponsor, visit online. To order Earth Science Week Toolkits for teachers in your area, go to

American Geosciences Institute - October 2012

Celebrate Next Week With
NASA Earth Explorers

Throughout Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20), students of all ages can connect to an incredible group of NASA Earth Explorers - from scientists and engineers to multimedia producers, educators and writers. Find out about their careers, how they study the planet, and what their typical day is like.

Blog posts, Google+ Hangouts and Twitter chats, as well as a webinar and radio interview in Spanish, are just some of the media activities that will allow explorers to tell their stories. You can directly participate by asking questions during the live events or by sending in questions beforehand.

The schedule of events includes:

* Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1-2 p.m. EDT - Twitter Chat with polar scientist Thorsten Markus.
* Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1-2 p.m. EDT - Univision Radio interview with scientists Erika Podest and Miguel Roman (in Spanish).
* Wednesday, Oct. 17, 1-2 p.m. EDT - Google+ Hangout with Operation IceBridge scientist Christy Hansen, on location near Antarctica
* Wednesday, Oct. 17, 4-5 p.m. EDT - Webinar with Aquarius engineers (in Spanish).
* Thursday, Oct. 18, noon-1 p.m. EDT - Twitter chat with atmospheric research scientist Erica Alston.
* Thursday, Oct. 18, 6-7 p.m. EDT - Reddit interview with oceanographer Josh Willis.

In addition, on October 18, the many contributions of women at NASA to Earth science will be highlighted as part of Female Geoscientist’s Day. Together with the NASA Earth Science Week website, the Women@NASA blog will feature three remarkable NASA Earth Explorers.

Visit the 2012 NASA Earth Science Week web site ( for a collection of articles, event information, blog posts, videos, and other educational resources in English and Spanish. Visit the Women@NASA Blog page (

Geologic Map Day
Boosts Mapping Education

The climax of Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20) is Geologic Map Day, which is being celebrated for the first time with learning activities across the country today. Hosted by the United States Geological Survey and the Association of American State Geologists in partnership with AGI, this special event promotes awareness of the study, uses, importance of geologic mapping for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.

To mark Geologic Map Day, today also is the launch of the National Geologic Map Database new web MapView ( The MapView provides a mosaic view of published geologic maps of the western half of the nation, with addition of the remaining states expected in 2013. View the USGS news release online (

In addition, check out the Geologic Map Day poster included in the Earth Science Week 2012 Toolkit ( The poster provides a geologic map of the United States, plus step-by-step instructions for a related classroom activity. Additional resources for learning about geologic maps can be found on the new Geologic Map Day web page (

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 50 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment. For contact information, please visit

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